Black Cake

Ballantine. Feb. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9780593358337. $28. F
DEBUT Wilkerson’s debut brings together two estranged siblings after the death of their mother, Eleanor. Byron, a successful biologist, has stuck by his family through his father’s and now his mother’s deaths. After 10 years apart, he sees his sister Benny at the reading of their mother’s will. The siblings, who used to be inseparable, are instructed to listen to a recording their mother left, then share the black cake (her old family recipe for special occasions) “when the time is right.” The recording reveals a hidden past filled with tragedy and heartache neither child could have imagined. The siblings learn about Covey, who lives in the Caribbean, is abandoned by her mother at an early age, and falls for a boy named Gibbs. When Covey is accused of murder, she leaves home with only a wooden box and her mother’s black cake recipe. The story moves to Britain, where Covey experiences more tragedy. Byron and Benny learn the sacrifices, hardships, and sorrow their mother endured, while finding out more about themselves and their identities.
VERDICT Already picked up by Oprah’s Harpo Films, Wilkerson’s novel jumps between Covey’s life and Byron’s and Benny’s in the current day. This engrossing read is highly recommended.
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